New Northwest Arkansas company wants to keep the joy in musical theater

New Northwest Arkansas company wants to keep the joy in musical theater

With a degree in musical theater performance from Liberty University, a private evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., and a couple of off-Broadway shows on her resume, Kayla Grizzard has formed a new Northwest Arkansas theater company. Perry Ryan Theater Co. is “dedicated to preserving the joy of musical theater for future generations.”

Grizzard grew up in Fort Myers, Fla., and “was introduced to the classic MGM musicals by my grandmother when I was a little kid.” When she discovered performing could be a career, “like a million other little girls, I took dance classes and voice lessons to try and prepare myself for that dream.” After college, she performed professionally at the Tony Award winning theater Dallas Theater Center in Dallas.

She “ended up in New York some years later, and found myself going to the cattle calls with so many other girls to try and make my dream come true,” Grizzard continues her story. “I actually founded a nonprofit to help artists build community and support each other and was able to perform in a couple off-Broadway shows. It was a really great time, and then my husband and I decided that it was time to get our kids out of the city during covid.”

Grizzard says her family is “thriving” in Arkansas, “and now I am excited to start my new professional career as a theater owner and producer.

“I was chatting with a friend about how much we missed performing since the industry shut down,” says Grizzard. “Theater was the first industry shut down and the last to reopen, at least in the city, so there was a lot of hopelessness in our community. And then the world felt just different at that point. We were all dealing with so many heavy things — hard conversations and divisions, and a lot of anger. … I saw that taking over the industry, and I just thought, that doesn’t look like the theater that I fell in love with as a kid. I remember sitting in a theater and not being able to stop smiling from the downbeat of the overture until the final bow.

“And I just didn’t see the kind of theater that made me fall in love with it being represented, so I wanted to create it.”

Perry Ryan Theater Co. will debut with an evening of selections from “Chicago,” “Wicked,” “Hamilton” and more Sept. 29-30 at the Thaden School in Bentonville.

“Our goal is to always include both out-of-town pros with local artists,” Grizzard says. “In this show, we have a core cast of five performers: Jordan Grizzard (who is also music directing the show), Scott Jones (my artistic partner), Francesca Noe (a professional from Nashville), Nick Hardeman and myself. We’ll be bouncing all over the stage taking on some of Broadways biggest hits with super fancy lighting and a video wall behind us. It’s going to be quite a show.

“We also have a featured dancer named Lyle Oberman who is just beautiful. You will love her. She has her own company here in town and is just a joy to work with. I get to dance a piece from ‘Chicago’ with her, and there is nothing better than dancing Fosse with a talented dancer while wearing a fringe dress!

“Joy is our goal. Joy for both our casts and our audiences … and everyone who works with us,” Grizzard concludes. “We always say at Perry Ryan, there is a seat for everyone, and everyone is always welcome at a PRTC show — of which we hope to have many more.”



Broadway In Bentonville

WHEN — 7 p.m. Sept. 29-30

WHERE — Thaden School in Bentonville

COST — $40


Categories: Music